Investments  

Unemployment falls to lowest level in 6.5 years

Unemployment falls to lowest level in 6.5 years

Unemployment across the UK has fallen to its lowest level in six and a half years, according to data published this morning by the Office for National Statistics.

The proportion of the economically active population who were unemployed was 5.6 per cent for the three months ending February 2015, compared with September to November 2014, which was at 5.8 per cent and a year earlier which was at 6.9 per cent.

Furthermore, the 5.6 per cent figure is the lowest unemployment rate since July 2008.

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In total, there were 8.99m people aged from 16 to 64 who were out of work and not seeking or available to work - known as ‘economically inactive’. This figure was 104,000 fewer than for September to November 2014 but 11,000 for more than a year.

The ONS reported that the number of people in employment rose by 248,000 to a record 31.05m - the biggest increase in a three month period since April 2014.

Graham Spooner, investment research analyst at The Share Centre, said: “The number of unemployed people fell by 76,000 to 1.838m and the number of people claiming unemployment benefit in March fell by 20,700.

“In the last official data on employment and earnings before the general election, the figures also suggested a smaller than expected increase in average earnings of 1.7 per cent, down 0.2 per cent from 1.9 per cent in January. For investors, this encouraging trend is another small brick in the wall of confidence in the UK economy.

“Good news about jobs and pay helps offset other less promising data such as the CPI figures reported at the beginning of this week, which showed the UK missing negative inflation by the narrowest of margins.

Despite the weaker earnings data giving the Bank of England some food for thought, we believe this data indicates real momentum in the ongoing jobs recovery.”

ruth.gillbe@ft.com